Archive for March 2010

It’s Not the Years in Education . . .

Mar 8th, 2010 | By

I really enjoy ancient wisdoms and thoughts that cause us to stop and think, such as: It’s not the years in education . . . it’s the education in the years. Making the most of our collective and individual time with students is so important, especially when some of our learners struggle with literacy skills that come easily for their classmates. As a very wise colleague once said, “we need to have a variety of brain-compatible/sense-making strategies and activities readily available at all times”. Having a variety of ways to teach and learn touches all of the various combinations of learning channels, a very important consideration for struggling learners. We must find numerous, creative, unique and “fun” ways to connect sound and print, and we need to do that on a routine basis.  Multisensory strategies/methods can open windows of learning that had remained limited or even closed through traditional teaching/learning methods. Visual Phonics, a multisensory strategy for connecting sound & print, is opening windows of learning and helping to make sound-letter connections and “break the code” for many struggling learners. Since the brain loves repetition and patterns, the activities of gathering and sorting are naturally very “brain-compatible”. There are two [...]

We Do What We Are Immersed In

Mar 8th, 2010 | By

If we immerse our students in activities that connect print and sound utilizing Visual Phonics hand shapes and written symbols, they will use these “tools” when they are processing print without being told to do so (especially the visual-kinesthetic learners).  When the teacher models hand shape & written symbol use throughout the day and embeds VP hand shape/written symbol use into learning centers, the value of the method shows up due to  frequent, intense & dynamic implementation. Consider this piece of ancient wisdom: If you give a man a fish he eats for a day . . .  when you teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime. When we immerse our students in Visual Phonics hand shape and symbol use, they will use them more often, and will do so independently. What a truly great way to empower our students!

Sameness and Difference – The Brain’s Sorting Processes at Work

Mar 5th, 2010 | By

Organization is hard-wired into our brains – our brains love patterns and repetition of interesting and meaningful information.  The concept of similarity, or “sameness,” is a basic organizing strategy . . . a way to be aware of and recognize common characteristics of things seen, heard, or felt.  With the awareness of “sameness” comes the awareness of “difference”, another basic organizing strategy. At the foundation of how we organize is the strategy of sorting. Sorting involves reasoning about “belonging” and “not belonging” . . . or inclusion and exclusion. The underlying cognitive constructs of polarity, category inclusion and exclusion, are part of the brain’s hard-wired organizational default.  In education, we use the terms “alike”, “same”, “go together” and “not different” to teach and reinforce “sameness”, while the terms “different”, “don’t go together”, and “not the same” teach and reinforce “difference”.  Other ways to express the idea of inclusion include “goes with” and “belongs”, while exclusion can be expressed by “doesn’t go with” or “doesn’t belong”. The sorting process can be as basic as “is” & “is not”. For example, when teaching young children about the color “red”, it is “brain-friendly” to use a variety of real objects, some of which [...]